In what looks like another nail in the coffin of competitors to the big two supermarket chains — as well as validation of community concerns expressed during the mishandled draft Hawker Master Plan process — Woolworth has made an offer for the Hawker IGA.
There are a lot of interesting things about this, not least the fact that the story was carried yesterday (17 Oct) by the Australian Financial Review, with, extraordinarily, not a peep from the Canberra Times or other local media. The AFR’s focus was on what Woolworth is up to in terms of expansion, and the fact that the proposal is current the subject of an ACCC review.
There are a lot of uncomfortable things about this, including the lack of transparency on the part of one of the IGA owners who was a member of the draft master plan Reference Group during protracted discussions about the master plan without coming clean about his intentions and negotiations with Woolworth.
As the AFR notes, the IGA owner ‘agreed to sell his Hawker store after Woolworths offered 17 times weekly earnings, “an offer he couldn’t refuse”. However, Woolworths said it had been approached by the owner and … agreed to buy the freehold site, supermarket business and liquor licence, pending ACCC approval.
… The ACCC’s review will consider Woolworths’ existing presence in the local market. Woolworths has four supermarkets within three to six kilometres of Hawker, Coles has two and Aldi three.”
The Hawker IGA is popular with shoppers for the friendliness of its staff and for the accessibility of parking, as well as for its quirky supply of out-of-the-ordinary continental groceries (and, I might add, the best choices of Moscato in Belconnen).
Closing date for submissions to the ACCC review is 5 November.